Pupils' rural mural adorns school hall

NEIGHBORS

January 30, 2002|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AFTER SEVEN WEEKS, pupils put the finishing brush strokes to a 6-foot-long mural Thursday in the entrance hall at New Windsor Middle School.

The artwork has been done under the watchful artistic eye of Barbara Schnell, a teacher from Hampstead.

"It's a child's view," Schnell said of the farm and fields that were drawn and painted in a impressionist style by the children. She was delighted with the figures of a mouse in a wheat field, people picnicking near their car and the textures of meadows.

"I got the feeling that many adults were surprised at the work the kids could do. They all signed their names at the bottom, but I didn't, because I did not do any painting. It's all their work," Schnell said.

Schnell teaches in an after-school program conducted at the school through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers under the direction of Susan Jones, and before her, Anna Rio.

Pupils sign up for activities that last 90 minutes daily after school. About every two months, a new schedule takes effect. Schnell has taught for about a year in the program, offering drawing and painting. Some children have signed up for her classes several times.

"You get attached to these kids. This is the fourth session I've worked with them. They're just great. It's so gratifying to work with children who are so enthused," Schnell said.

The mural was a project that started in one seven-week session and was finished in a second seven-week session. One group of eight pupils met with Schnell on Tuesdays and a group of eight met with her Thursdays.

The first seven weeks were devoted to drawing and painting ideas for the mural.

From the 16 pupils emerged seven ideas that were presented for a schoolwide vote. Designs ranged from a land of candy, several renditions of Sept. 11 memorials, aliens in outer space and two landscapes.

The farm scene, with a horse, cow, barn and automobile, was chosen.

"It's wonderful because it really involved the whole school. Everyone got a chance to give their thoughts," Schnell said. "The school permitted them to put in anything they felt, which I thought was beneficial."

The second seven weeks was spent sketching and painting on the wall by a group of 10 pupils. They are: Kimberly Bittler, Alyssa Roberts, Lindsay Young, Lauren Pajak, Melissa Axtell, John Gomola, Kaitlyn Baran, Kayla Kipps, Ben Frye and Morgan Engel.

"We projected the design, and they drew it and then painted it. I think they did a beautiful job with it," Schnell said. Four pupils skipped the school dance to ensure the mural was finished on time.

"All the teachers came by and energized the group. They offered encouragement for me, the teacher, as well," Schnell said. "I love working with the kids in the school."

Schnell will return to the New Windsor program in April after a painting workshop in Florence, Italy.

Groundhog birthday party

This year, Linda Geers will celebrate her birthday Saturday in the company of about 12,000 well-wishers. Geers, who is manager of North East Social Action Program Inc. in Hampstead, shares her birthday with the awakening of a very famous hibernating animal.

The Geers family will travel from Lineboro to Punxsutawney, Pa., to see Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog featured in national media for predicting the first day of spring.

"It's a three-day party, with ice carving, banjo payers, coffeeshops open at 3 a.m., and groundhog souvenirs," said Kristen Geers, a student at Western Maryland College, who will accompany her Mom on the 166th annual Trek to Gobbler's Knob - a hike from downtown to the groundhog's tree stump home.

Many visitors camp in community centers that open before midnight to be ready for shuttle buses that start at 2:30 a.m.

The prognostication is read at 7:25 a.m. by the Groundhog Club, men in top hats and tuxedos. For those with Groundhog Day birthdays, a birthday cake is cut at 9 a.m. and Groundhog Day gifts are given.

"I can't believe we're doing all this for a rodent," Kristen said.

The three-day event includes continuous live music, a chili cook-off, whittling show, chainsaw carving and free showings of the movie Groundhog Day, filmed in Punxsutawney in 1993 with Bill Murray as a weatherman who gets stuck in the town during the celebration. After the movie was released, about 30,000 people traveled to Punxsutawney. It's the place to be 02-02-02.

Writing, producing classes

Raimonda Mikatavage, a Hampstead producer, writer and director of the 18-episode Pioneer Living Series on public television, is offering five courses on Wednesdays next month and in March at Roland Park Country School in the Kaleidoscope Adult Ed Program. The 90-minute courses are each $20 or $75 for all five.

Courses are: Publishing Your Own Book, Feb. 6; Basics of Producing a Video or CD, Feb. 13; Promoting Your Book, Video or CD, Feb. 20; Basics of Media Interviews, Feb. 27; and Selling Yourself, March 6.

Mikatavage has written three books published in five languages, given more than 100 radio, TV and print interviews, and has interviewed more than 150 guests for her national PBS series that featured Noriyuki `Pat' Morita as host.

She served on the board of Mid-Atlantic Publishers Association for three years, and presented workshops where she shared her experiences and successes.

"I believe the courses would be helpful [to those interested] in writing, publishing, producing, marketing, advocacy, or promotion of their organization, service, or creative pursuit," Mikatavage said.

Additional information is on the Web site, www.pioneerliving.com.

Course information: Roland Park Country School, 410-323-5500, or Raimonda Mikatavage, 410-374-5160.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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